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Blues Legend Heirs Seek End To Lawyers’ Fee

Legend has it Robert Johnson sold his soul to the devil in exchange for his talent as a blues musician, but few would hear his music. He mysteriously died at age 27 and didn’t become famous during his lifetime. Even though he only recorded 29 songs, the royalties from his music are in the millions and the law firm which proved who was the rightful heir is still being paid for its services 20 years later.

… Today, Michael Johnson has gone to the Mississippi Supreme Court to appeal the royalty agreement his father struck with attorneys – a deal that paid the attorneys a percentage of Robert Johnson’s royalties for years.

… “To this day they’re still receiving 40 percent of the royalties,” Michael said. “That is not right.

“That contract shouldn’t last forever. It’s time for that to end.”

Michael also said he feels his father didn’t understand the contract with Kitchens and Ellis.

“My Daddy had an 8th-grade education,” Michael Johnson said. “He didn’t know what he was signing. He was a gravel truck driver.”

… The case has now been filed with the Mississippi Supreme Court, but Michael has reservations about that. Jim Kitchens, who was Claud’s attorney and had received contingency fees from the royalties, is a Justice in the court. Even with his recusal, Michael feels his association with the court could impact the decision.

“I want to get a fair shake in the court system about this case,” Michael said. “The outcome is going to affect our family tremendously.”

Read more at the Mississippi Clarion Ledger.